I had the pleasure of arranging a meeting this week with a fellow industry expert Peter van Teeseling who introduced me to the excellent services of Tungle… Tungle is not just another one of those online scheduling systems, this one actually works! The nifty online interface enables you to connect with the essential online social and business tools including Facebook and Linkedin, but the biggest advantage is that they have built native application synchronization for the main Mac & PC mail clients, and you know what….. it works exceptionally well! The web interface is well designed and intuitive for any user to use…. Yes even those who have struggled to adjust to the online world and still thumble with their Blackberries will be able to get on!
I know you say “why are you so surprised”, well, for a start, at the moment the service is free….. yes FREE!!!So given the free status of the application and the lovely personal email to the CEO Marc Gingras, I had to mail him back with some questions about how Tingle came about and how they can sustain a free business model.
Yesterday I wrote about how we are losing skilled staff out of the industry as the big squeeze is hitting firms all over the country, so today I thought I’d talk about online training.
In a previous life (which naturally was many moons ago) whenever a new version of a software application was released I would tirelessly learn all I could to ensure that I had the answers to the questions from the staff who worked for me and I in turn would serve as the educator. I saw this as my duty and my career so it was down to me to maintain a competence level on the applications of may chosen career path, I mean most updates to software only ever improve features or add the odd new one here and there.
Over a period of upgrades from Adobe, they changed the interfaces, they moved menu items around and generally improved the applications usability bringing the suite into a common user interface environment, great you may think…… I remember as a manager having discussions with staff about the company providing training on the updates, why? good question, essentially the same application, slightly altered interface with some new tools. If they were Photoshop users and we had said, sorry we’re not doing the next upgrade as it’s too expensive, instead we will be switching to Paint Shop Pro, then yes I can understand, a new application that they have never used before; or say When Indesign started becoming the application of choice for the design agencies and our ‘repro’ operators had to learn how to become proficient in it as they were long term Quark users, then yes completely, 100% train them.
Well that was way back when the internet was a luxury and dial up was the best a user had on offer. Today in the highly connected world, we have unlimited access to resources far beyond our earlier years in the industry. Companies such as Total Training and Lynda.com who once could only offer video based training via expensive CD sets, now have complete online libraries covering every application you can think of, along with scripting languages and operating systems. All this offered for a single monthly or annual fee of a couple of hundred bucks.
Why wouldn’t you as a professional in your chosen career path invest in the continued self development for your future?
I’ve seen a mixture of reasons for this, don’t get me wrong, I know people who have and do subscribe to these online training libraries, but I also know people who think it is the duty of the company they work for to maintain their application knowledge and I also know people who like the concept but actually sitting down and going through a training program, in their own time or time set aside by the company, well that just rarely happens…. too many distractions, so many other things that are more exciting to do blah blah blah….. yes I’ve heard all the excuses!
But, wait, there’s another issue, with all of this high speed access to the world wide web your web connection to the largest most knowledgeable cerebral cortex, a connection into the world of self published material, puts absolutely everything at your finger tips for FREE yes FREE ok maybe not as well organised as these online training sites, but want to know how to use curves in Photoshop, tap it into Google, hundreds of pages free to view, video’s to watch, people to connect to. Everything you need is there, self published by individuals, done in their own time….. even how to use a hammer (even baby’s know how to use a hammer when they are first given one) yes the simple stuff, someone has written text or created a video on the subject.
So the question, is online training worth the cash? Do they need to step up their game so that you or your company who has invested in the subscription actually have some sort of metric’s to measure how effective the training was, and thus how much value it brings?
I’m not down on the guys at all, I think they serve a great purpose and have taught me a lot over my years, my question is really are they keeping up with the changing times.